Hey stranger…where ya been?

Wait, that wasn’t directed at you, my wonderful readers. At least I hope there’s still an ‘s’ on the end of that last word. It was meant for me. And while it was never my intention to post every day, or week for that matter, I did think perhaps once a month was doable.

Oh well, we all know which road is paved with good intentions.

The last few months have been busy with family and other obligations and what writing time I managed to find was spent on my work in progress or as I like to refer to it, “my little story.” Trust me, I’m not complaining, just trying to account for my absence.

So here I sit, the day before Thanksgiving, thinking about the last minute things I need to get done before my gang arrives, but instead of heading off to the store for the things I forgot to get yesterday…Yes, I had a list…I decided to sit down and write. Go figure. Six months of not hearing from me and wham a post. Some might say I’m procrastinating but I see it differently.  What better time is there to sit, reflect and count my blessings, than the day before ‘the day’ our nation has set aside to give thanks?

As I was making my shopping list the other day…see I told you I had made a list. I started thinking about traditions. Our family has our share, as I’m sure yours does as well, and many of them seem to be centered around food.

Take our Thanksgiving meal menu. It hasn’t changed in over thirty years. I remember looking through cookbooks and food magazines for inspiration. I’d rip out pages or place post-it notes on the pages where I’d find things that looked yummy. I’ll never forget one Thanksgiving I mentioned to the boys I was thinking of trying a new cauliflower casserole recipe. One I had ripped out of a magazine thinking perhaps I’d give the old broccoli casserole a year off. As I read the ingredients to those present in the room, I heard someone say. “Sounds good Mom.” There, I had it. Permission to move ahead. But then I must have mentioned something about not having the broccoli casserole and the next thing I heard was…”Wait, what?!?” You see, that was the moment I learned how important the traditional Thanksgiving menu was to all three of my boys. They sweetly but emphatically told me I was more than welcome to introduce a new dish to the menu but it couldn’t be in lieu of an old favorite. Message received.

There are other holidays and important milestones marked by food in this house as well. Take for example the Saturday after Thanksgiving. A day the man cave gets turned into an inside tailgating spot. As everyone knows, it’s called rivalry Saturday and since the three boys went to three different colleges, all with their own football teams, there are usually games on all day long. This day has its own menu as well and the boys have mastered the timing of picking up the wings perfectly. Or, as is more likely, they’ve talked one of their buddies into picking up the order on their way over. They try to pace themselves but between the sausage dip, wings, pizza and beer…the food coma has usually set in by the night games.

footballmap

Most all our friends know who’s birthday it is or who is coming home by what I’m fixing. If I mention I need to make lasagna, everyone knows my older son will be arriving soon. It’s a bit trickier when I make chicken parmesan because it’s the favorite for my two other sons. They both request it as ‘their’ meal. I don’t think there is a friend out there who wouldn’t be able to guess which sons are headed home by my dinner menu tonight.

What I love most about our food traditions are what they have done and continue to do for my family. Food gets us around the table. Every birthday, welcome home, and holiday meal has brought not only my boys, but our extended family and all our friends together. Is there anything better than enjoying a delicious meal, surrounded by your family and friends, all talking, laughing and connecting? I say no! We’ve spent countless hours lingering around the kitchen table which usually transforms into a game table after the dishes have been cleared.

So this Thanksgiving, as you gather around the table, look around at each face. Be present and enjoy the moment. I know the holidays can be hard but maybe try and think of all the things which bring us together instead of those which divide us. The empty broccoli casserole dish, or whatever your family’s favorite must have dish is, and all the other plates and glasses, for that matter, can wait. Just sip your favorite beverage, listen to the chatter and linger.

Oh and just FYI…the cauliflower casserole, while tasty, did not make it onto the ‘must have’ list.

Well, I’ve put it off long enough. I need to get back to the store for the remaining few items and God forbid before the last can of fried onions disappears. So, from me and my family, to you and yours…cheers to all those traditions…whatever they may be!

Happy Thanksgiving!

images

 

 

How many more?

It’s been over a week since the shooting at the high school in Florida. I watched the coverage as it unfolded and each time I saw a photo of one of the victims, or heard a heartbroken family member speak out, my eyes filled with tears and a piece of my heart broke right along with theirs.

How many more innocent lives will be lost before we do something?

As I was watching my mind went to Mothers against drunk driving (M.A.D.D.). I don’t claim to be an expert on the organization, nor do I have any affiliation with them. I just know they have been instrumental in rallying for many of the changes in the laws over the past thirty plus years. Their tagline on the site states…No More Victims. https://www.madd.org

Founded in 1980. This movement was started by one mom, around her kitchen table, after her thirteen year old daughter was struck and killed by a drunk driver.

An example of turning heartbreak (and I’m sure anger) into activism.

We have now witnessed several shootings in schools and other public places over the past years. One of which took place here in my hometown of Charleston, SC in June of 2015.

I’ve been away for a few days. Got to spend some time with my oldest son, daughter-in-law and grandson. As I held my grandson in my arms, I couldn’t help but worry about what the future holds for him. Will he feel safe at school? Will he fear being in public spaces?

I love my country and the freedoms we are privileged to enjoy. I don’t want that to ever change but in my mind an important component of that freedom is being free to live our day to day lives without fear.

I am in awe of the movement the young people are initiating and their plans for a rally against school and gun violence in Washington, D.C. on March 24th. Another example of turning heartbreak and anger into activism.

When I started this blog I didn’t know exactly where it would lead me. In fact if I am perfectly honest I wasn’t convinced I would have anything to say. I did hope to do two things though; to write fearlessly from my heart and be true to myself. Like most of the reflection pieces I have written in the past, a thought usually strikes me and percolates until I just can’t take it any longer and must get it out on paper.

There is a saying…Actions speak louder than words. While I am a writer and have an affinity towards words, I do believe wholeheartedly in this saying. I’ve repeated it plenty of times while raising my boys. So this is where I get to practice what I have preached.

Please know I am not looking to start a political debate. We all have and are entitled to our own opinions and beliefs.

But for me, and something I plan on sharing with my representatives…

When asked “How many more?”

I’d like the answer to be “No More!”